How to Use Professional Feedback to Your Advantage
Feedback is crucial to the way that we view and improve ourselves and our work. Although it may not always be the best to receive or hear, feedback from others is a useful way to evaluate the areas that we can improve on. In this article, we discuss how to properly take and use constructive feedback to grow as a leader.
Be an Active Listener
Usually, executives get feedback or constructive criticism from their team and direct reports. Feedback meetings, whether scheduled or random, allow professionals to gauge their success in different areas such as overall performance, proficiency in their role, and teamwork with their colleagues. Although it may be tempting, one of the most important things to do when receiving feedback is to not take it personally. Getting told that you may not be performing to the best of your ability can be disheartening, but it is necessary to know our strengths and weaknesses in order to develop professionally.
The first step in utilizing this feedback is to really actively listen and try to understand what the person is saying to you. Avoid being defensive or argumentative; remember that the person providing feedback wants you and the company to succeed. Also, be aware of how you are responding to said feedback. Do you look tense? Is your voice louder than usual? These indicators may send a negative message to the giver, which then makes the whole process harder to get through for both parties. Instead of focusing on what might be negative about the feedback given to you, delve into the why and how you can implement changes moving forward.
Don’t Get Mad, Ask Questions!
Sometimes, the feedback you receive may be unclear or vague, and you may not know what your next steps should be. After thanking the person who gave you feedback, ask if they would be comfortable answering some follow-up questions. If the answer is yes, take this opportunity to ask specific questions about the points they made. Depending on the situation, this may include questions like:
- “How do you think this should be done in the future?”
- “What goals should I be working towards?”
- “How are you measuring my progress?”
Although it might not seem like it at the time, giving and receiving feedback can also be a great opportunity to build your professional relationships. As both people are being truthful and straightforward during these conversations, the relationship will be able to grow and develop more, which makes further feedback discussions easier to get through. As noted by Executive Coach Ed Batista, “To become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they’re achieving their goals in their working relationships. Direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it.”
Put Feedback into Action
After your meeting, think back and reflect on everything your peer has told you. If you decide that the feedback is of use to you, take some time to sit down and write out a short- or long-term plan for how you are going to further your own development. You may have to work on increasing your influence and impact or change some of your behaviors. However, you may also want to seek outside coaching or professional development workshops to improve your performance.
Once you decide what you want to do, the next step is to put those plans into action. The hardest thing besides seeking out feedback in the first place will be to implement new behaviors in your daily routine. You will be tempted to continue to conduct yourself as you did before, but it is imperative that you make a conscious effort to change. As business leader Robert F. Smith says, “To distinguish yourself today, you have to run toward change, not away from it. You have to embrace change, not shirk from it.” Broadening your mindset and skillset can only improve your professional performance, and even benefit you personally.
Having access to the opinions of others is an important way for us to assess our strengths and weaknesses as our opinions about ourselves may tend to be a bit skewed. However, remember that all feedback does not have to be acted upon if you disagree with points made. That being said, you should remember that gathering feedback on a consistent basis does have value. At the very least, you will be aware of other’s points of view that could lead to personal discoveries and insights.
Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; CBD; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Hospital and Healthcare; Hotels and Resorts; Nonprofit; Restaurant; and Travel, Tourism, and Attractions industries.
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